By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
The nuclear negotiations with Iran have had plenty of drama, precipitated with the United States having strained relations with our long term allies in the region. The one question missing in the debate is how close is Iran to developing, producing and deploying a nuclear device?
Military analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, reported that this means looking beyond enrichment and examining any proposed agreement in terms of how far Iran has moved toward a bomb, whether it would need to carry out a major fissile test or tests, how much covert research and development activity it still needs, and how well the U.S. and its allies can detect such actions, as well as covert fissile material production efforts in the future – all key considerations in judging IAEA inspection and verification capabilities as well.
Again, the missing equation in this debate – does anyone know how far Iran has progressed in its nuclear designs, or how far can Tehran go in its development of a nuclear device if an agreement is put in place.
So far nobody has articulated what Iran has done in the past, what part of their nuclear program has been hidden, have all of their facilities been accounted for, or what material has been produced. If we don’t know what they have hidden in the past, how do we know what they will hide in the future?
If Iran failed to comply and disclose what they had in the past under crippling sanctions, what makes anyone believe that they will be forthright when the sanctions are lifted?
Over the years the Iranian administration has failed to comply with past U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the IAEA issuing a report last November in which it raised alarming questions regarding Iran’s past weapons developments.
Previous reports by the IAEA continued to highlight the refusal by Iran to fully comply or allow the IAEA to gain access to their nuclear infrastructure, should give pause to negotiators as they pursue a nuclear agreement.
This is why Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are terrified that as this negotiation continues forward, the international community still does not know the full extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.
The Sunni Gulf Arabs are basically told that this agreement with Iran will be good for the region and the international community, but they see the situation far different then President Obama.
The Sunni Arabs see the threat to the region emanating from Iran, and are perplexed as to why the United States continues to pursue nuclear negotiation with Tehran while the Middle East is exploding in a Sunni-Shia regional conflict.
Former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration stated Sunday, “I think where we are right now, we have almost a complete breakdown of order in the Middle East, a new Middle East is essentially struggling to be born.”
“The second thing is, we have Iran on the march. Iran is clearly on the march, in Iraq and also Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East. We have a takeover of Islam by radical extremists. And I think this is very dangerous, and it’s both Shiite and Sunni, we can’t forget that.”
The region is exploding with Iran heavily involved in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen, and other parts of the broader Middle East, but the United States continues to negotiate with Iran.
The most damaging aspect of all this, as General Flynn pointed out, is that there is “A real sort of a pushback by the Sunni governments and their lack of trust, and their lack of respect for the United States. I think that at the end of the day, we have just this incredible policy confusion, never mind what our strategy is to execute that policy.”
The United States currently has all of our allies in the region unsure of the strategy that this administration is pursuing, and the one currently going forward has the U.S. negotiating with Iran, who is responsible for fermenting the majority of the conflict.
The U.S. has to be careful, as any signal of this agreement going forward may be a precept that Iran will keep its nuclear program intact, and at any future time Tehran can develop a nuclear device, which will have severe consequence for the region and the United States.